In the present study, the hemagglutinin genes from 12 influenza viruses of the H9N2 subtype were isolated from chicken flocks in different provinces of Iran from 2003 to 2005, amplified and sequenced. All of the 12 isolates showed similar sequences at the cleavage site, RSSF/GLF, bearing eight potential glycosylation sites and sharing the characteristic deduced amino acid residues alanine-190, glutamine-226, and glutamine-227 at the receptor-binding site. Ten out of these 12 isolates possessed leucine at position 226, which prevails in the sequences found in human H2 and H3 strains. Overall, the presence in these Iranian poultry H9N2 viruses of the sequence known to bind to human-type receptors and the presence of antibodies in the human population of Iran to H9N2 showed that it is possible for circulating H9N2 avian influenza viruses in Iran to infect humans. Hence, extensive surveillance of H9N2 in this country is highly recommended.
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Vol. 54 • No. 2